New XL tanker plane cleared for fire duty

New XL tanker plane cleared for fire duty

Global SuperTanker Services has announced that its firefighting B747-400 has received its final safety and operational approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Global SuperTanker Services, based in Colorado, US, has announced that its firefighting B747-400, named Spirit of John Muir, has received its final safety and operational approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The converted B747-400 had previously been issued the FAA's Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) authorising the installation and utilisation of its pressurised tanks, but only on 12 September did the FAA issue Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) certificate 137, which allows Global SuperTanker to fly in revenue service. The Spirit of John Muir is now fully certified to operate as an aerial platform for wildland and marine firefighting, as well as oil spill remediation.

Global SuperTanker says the plane is the world’s youngest Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT), and claims it has almost twice the capacity of the next biggest aerial tanker, being capable of delivering single or multiple drops of nearly 20,000 gallons (90,000 l) of water or fire retardant.

“We wish to thank the FAA, particularly the Los Angeles and Denver offices, for their continued support of Global SuperTanker, and their diligence in ensuring all legal and safety requirements have been met,” said Jim Wheeler, president and CEO of Global SuperTanker. “We are proud that our aircraft… has met the agency’s rigorous safety standards, and we look forward to working with the FAA in the years to come.”

The company also says it is currently working with the US Forest Service (USFS) to achieve its final USFS certifications. While the aircraft awaits USFS approval, it is currently available not only to US states, counties, and cities, but also to overseas entities.